Pegontheroad in eastern Europe

Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 12:23 PM
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not interminable, but full of interesting details and insight, Peg.

I'm enjoying it and waiting impatiently for the next instalment.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2015, 04:08 PM
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ditto annhig! Please continue!
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 06:06 AM
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Good for you, PEG,

"Even though I am not finished with this interminable trip report, I wanted to add that I've investigated train travel from Berlin to Warsaw with the idea of returning to Warsaw next year."

Thanks for sharing your passion for this less traveled part of Europe with us. Taking more cabs would also help getting around more easily. I have come to that conclusion myself in late years...
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 11:03 AM
  #144  
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I wanted to tell a little about the tour I took of the city, but naturally I didn't save that bruchure, despite having loaded my suitcase with every other printed map, brochure, and pamphlet I encountered. It would have been nice to explain what we saw, but I can only go by the little bit I recorded and whatever I can pull out of my ageing memory.

The tour, on a small bus, lasted about 3&1/2 hours, and hit various important sights in Warsaw, among them Royal Lazienki Park, the Old Town, the Umschlagplatz, etc. I'd like to go back to various of the stops, such as the Old Town and the area around it. It was very pleasant, and it didn't wear me out, since we didn't walk constantly.

There were many beautiful buildings and palaces as well as water features in the park, which was very large, and it was filled with strolling Varsovians. Lovely time there. Nice place to take the kids.

The driver spoke fast and with a strong Polish accent. He suggested this German lady of about my age might want to sit next to me. Her English was good, but at one point she whispered to me that his Polish accent made him hard for her to understand. I whispered back that he was hard for me to understand as well.

He included a good deal about early Polish history, of which I am ignorant, so I didn't understand much. Since I've been reading Norman Davies book, I've learned a little, so that if I did this tour or another like it, I'd be able to follow better. I enjoyed the tour, though, and I saw much that I'd like to visit again.

At the end of the tour, the German lady confided to me that she'd just been to Russia (I don't recall which city) to visit the place where her father died in WWII. She said they had always been proud that he had not joined the Nazi party. Nice lady. It can't have been comfortable for her, since the guide talked a good deal about the Nazis.

My only criticism of the tour is that I didn't get to answer all the questions I wanted to ask.

Several times I saw beggars on the street, a sight which I will never get used to. On my last day, I saw an old lady kneeling on the sidewalk of Jerozolimskie, a main street, with her hands folded as in prayer. She muttered something to to me when I gave her a donation, but of course I don't know what she said.

Just an aside before I head off for my lunch--I'd made a comment on my recorder that I'd just seen a T-shirt that said, "I will not keep calm. F--k off!" Some things are universal, as is the influence of Justin Bieber. I saw countless young men wearing Justin Bieber's pompador. That boy has a lot to answer for.
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 11:36 AM
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"That boy has a lot to answer for."
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I always enjoy your trip reports. It is an extra bonus when you and others mention books. I usually find a new book to read based on your reports and planning threads. Thanks!
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 05:46 PM
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Hi again PEG,

"Several times I saw beggars on the street, a sight which I will never get used to. On my last day, I saw an old lady kneeling on the sidewalk of Jerozolimskie, a main street, with her hands folded as in prayer. She muttered something to to me when I gave her a donation, but of course I don't know what she said."

This anecdote reminds me of an experience I had in London last year. I stayed for ten nights at the STRAND PALACE, about a 4-5 minute walk up the Strand from Trafalgar Square. I think that there must be a homeless shelter nearby because there were always many "unfortunates" in the vicinity as I walked by. Included was a beggar, kneeling and praying fervently every day. One night nearing 10 PM, I noticed her walking along laughing and joking with her fellow street people, obviously returning to their shelter for the night. She looked happy...
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Old Aug 4th, 2015, 08:46 PM
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Peg..happy that you finally made your planned trip. Fascinating report...easy reading...you covered the territory so very well. Keep on travelin' and keep on truckin'....(Zags will be vulnerable this year...I think they're on UCLA's schedule. Hope so! Stay well!

Stu Tower
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 03:24 AM
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PEG, just finished watching THE SINGING REVOLUTION about ESTONIA'S resistance to Soviet occupation in the 80s. Very moving. Beautiful people...
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 07:10 AM
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Pssst !!

Still following and enjoying.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 08:54 AM
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Percy...from your posts it seems like your recovery was successful. Happy to see that! Stay well and keep on traveling.
stu
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 10:18 AM
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Included was a beggar, kneeling and praying fervently every day. One night nearing 10 PM, I noticed her walking along laughing and joking with her fellow street people, obviously returning to their shelter for the night. She looked happy.>>

Lateday - that area is very popular with the homeless for a number of reasons - the warmth that comes up through the pavements and out of doorways from all the restaurants, the left overs from the same, the generosity of passing tourists, and the proximity of St Martins in the Fields which runs an outreach programme for them, which is in great demand, especially at Christmas.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 01:09 PM
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On Monday, my final day before my flight, I took a taxi to the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, only to discover to my dismay that the museum was closed, since it was Monday. I was very disappointed!

Near the museum was the Ghetto Heroes monument, with sculptures on one side showing fighters, among them the leader of the uprising, Mordechaj Anielewicz. This is the monument at which in 1970, Willi Brandt, then chancellor of Germany, famously knelt after placing a floral wreath at the base.

The monument is located in a pleasant park, with benches under the trees. I sat there for a while absorbing my disappointment, then started off for the old town, which I thought wasn't far away.

I walked for some distance until I came to an arterial street, where I saw a signs indicating that the monument to the Warsaw Uprising was to my right and the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East was to my left. I continued walking and finally came to the Warsaw Uprising Monument, which was really impressive.

It shows fighters emerging from the ruined walls of their city, and other fighters descending through a manhole into the network of sewers. Beside them is a figure of a priest. The figures are life-size or larger, made of bronze. This is a powerful statement about the courage of the Polish fighters against enormous odds.

After that I walked the other way to see the Monument to the Fallen and Murdered in the East. My legs and feet were screaming that I should sit down, but I plodded on until I found another impressive bronze monument.

It shows a railroad flatcar heaped with religious symbols--Catholic and Orthodox crosses, stars of David, and Muslim symbols.Next to it are tracks with replicas of railroad ties, each with the name of places from which Poles were deported to be used as slave laborers in the USSR and also the names of camps, collective farms, villages, etc., in the gulag. The names also include mass murder sites used by the NKVD.

The first name that I noticed was Katyn, which of course was the site of a mass murder that the Soviets blamed on the Nazis. I also saw "Siberia" and the names of other places I didn't recognize.

An Ibis hotel stands next to this monument. I went into the restaurant to rest my legs and have lunch, a lunch which consisted of a mediocre hamburger of which I ate perhaps half. By that time, I had given up the idea of heading toward the Old Town. I had the staff call me a taxi. That was really the end of my tourist experiences for this trip.

The next day at some ungodly hour (I think 4:30 a.m.) the hotel shuttle picked me up and took me to the Warsaw airport. Checking myself and my luggage was a bit chaotic--machines that didn't all work or didn't work well, luggage clerks that weren't there--but I finally got it done.

I had about $60 worth of zlotys left, and I thought about getting it changed into dollars, but I knew the exchange would be poor....and then I saw these two nuns. So I walked up to their table and said, "This is in gratitude for the wonderful nuns who were my teachers."

I learned a lot about the people of eastern Europe, especially of Poland, and I'm deeply impressed with their resilience and their spirit. The book by Alan Furst, "The Polish Officer," ends with the hero continuing to fight the Nazis, knowing that he will not survive but nevertheless not taking the easy way out and leaving his country.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 02:20 PM
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I am sorry that your trip has ended. Thanks for book recommendations and ideas for a trip to that part of the world!

And many thanks for finishing this report.

Hope temps in your city have dropped. Recently saw on one of the weather sites which was reporting random cities that your temps were in the triple digits. YUCK!
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 03:09 PM
  #154  
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We have had an extremely hot summer with many days in the high 90's or in the low 100's.

The last week of June is Hoopfest here, with players coming from all over to play 3 on 3 basketball. The temps were in the low 100's. Can you imagine playing basketball when the temp is 105 degrees?

Last summer was just as bad as this summer, so I expect this is probably the "new normal." You know it's been hot when you're happy that the temp the next day will be in the low 90's.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 06:09 PM
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You might like to see
Katyń , a 2007 Polish film about the 1940 Katyn massacre, directed by Academy Honorary Award winner Andrzej Wajda. It is based on the book Post Mortem: The Story of Katyn by Andrzej Mularczyk. It was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film for the 80th Academy Awards.
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Old Aug 5th, 2015, 06:54 PM
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Hi Peg,

Loved your parting shot -

"I had about $60 worth of zlotys left, and I thought about getting it changed into dollars, but I knew the exchange would be poor....and then I saw these two nuns. So I walked up to their table and said, "This is in gratitude for the wonderful nuns who were my teachers." Beautiful story.

ANNHIG, thank you for commenting about the homeless near Trafalgar Square - "that area is very popular with the homeless for a number of reasons ... "

I have to tell you this story. On my first night in London last June, I attended a lecture by Thomas Piketty at LSE who had written the blockbuster tome on economics, CAPITAL IN THE TWENTYFIRST CENTURY. When I returned to the Strand Palace, I saw that one of the three computers in an alcove off the lobby was available. I grabbed it. Beside me was this woman, very friendly, who asked me about my stay in London.

I told her that I had just returned from Piketty's lecture - she knew quite a bit about him which impressed me. When I asked her if she were staying at the Strand, she looked rather sheepish. I saw her there using one of the computers on other nights. On closer inspection, I noticed that she was really in disarray. I surmised that she would sneak in to do her "research" later in the evening. I really felt bad for her and determined to give her a £20 note on my last night in London, but she did not appear.

Actually I had returned quite late that evening and I presume that she was one of those who returned to the nearby shelter at 10 PM. I know this sounds crazy, but she must have been a very intelligent person who had fallen on hard times. I would have said to her, "This is for knowing who Piketty is." I still think of her from time to time....
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 09:02 AM
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I know this sounds crazy, but she must have been a very intelligent person who had fallen on hard times. I would have said to her, "This is for knowing who Piketty is." I still think of her from time to time....>>

Lateday - not crazy at all, all sorts of people fall on hard times; homelessness is no respecter of persons. Shame that you weren't able to meet up with her again and help her out but good for you for wanting to do so.
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 12:11 PM
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Danon: I just ordered the DVD "Katyn." I'm trying not to spend so much money, and Amazon is a weakness for me. I had a $25 Walmart gift card, but Walmart didn't have the DVD, so I bought other stuff that I would have bought at my local supermarket and spent $16 of the $25 on Amazon.

Gosh, come to think of it, that means I still have $9 left over that I can spend for a new book.
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 12:39 PM
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Great report, Peg. You sure did a lot of walking in Warsaw. I was there a couple summers ago, and insisted on walking places, despite heat and distance. To this day, the friend with whom I was traveling responds, when I say, "Oh, let's walk; it's only a few blocks," "A few blocks? Or a few WARSAW blocks???"

Katyn is a good movie.
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Old Aug 6th, 2015, 01:16 PM
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Sounds like you have a plan..!
We rented the DVD some time ago....a powerful film about a terrible event.
Poland was certently caught between Scilla and Charybdis
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